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Verdict: 
A very viable alternative to tubeless for saving weight at the wheel, and they promise puncture benefits too
Weight: 
38g

They may be expensive, but compared to a tubeless conversion – or a new wheelset – the Tubo Road tubes from Tubolito are a cost-effective way of shedding some weight. They promise some puncture resistance benefits as well.

  • Pros: Ride well, weigh next-to-nothing
  • Cons: Undoubtedly expensive; orange valve stems

Yes, of course I said, 'How much?? For an inner tube?' but, having tried them, I've concluded that this is to look at the Tubo in the wrong way. We all like to save a little weight – there are whole areas of the bike industry devoted to it – and compared to a random butyl 700C tube grabbed from the garage, the Tubo offers a saving of 70g. That's per tube. So for an outlay of short of £60 you can shave 140g/5oz off the weight of your bike – at the wheels, where it counts.

Even if you have tubeless-ready rims, to buy a set of tubeless tyres plus the sealant and some compatible valves will cost you more than that per wheel. Plus I'd argue that, at 38g per tube, the Tubos weigh less than the sealant. Hill climbers will love these.

The Tubo is made from what the manufacturers mysteriously describe as a thermoplastic elastomer. It's shiny and quite stiff to the touch, like a thin rim tape. There's no seam, the tube being made in a continuous sausage which is then welded together at the ends, near the valve.

Fitting is a doddle and a lot less faff than a tubeless conversion. In fact, I'd say it's easier than a normal tube, for two reasons. One is that the Tubo mustn't be over-inflated outside the tyre – just a few psi to give it shape – so it stays small and there's plenty of room in the tyre to pop it in. Secondly, the orange colour makes it easy to see, so you know right away if you've got it pinched between rim and tyre.

> Buyer's Guide: The best inner tubes

There's no thread on the valve stem, just a rubber ring to help keep the water out. If you like, you can leave off the valve cover to save another 1g.

All this is of little consequence if the ride quality is bobbins. I really couldn't tell the difference. Tubolito reckons the rolling resistance is akin to a latex tube. Unlike latex, they've stayed pumped up for over a week.

The company claims some benefits in puncture resistance, too. According to its tests, it takes twice as much force to push a needle through the elastomer than a standard tube. I haven't had them long enough to produce any results that could be described as 'statistically significant' but I haven't had a puncture yet. I was sent a 40mm tube as well, and that's gone in the winter bike. We shall see how it stands up to a season of grit and filth. One slight downside is that you need a special patch kit, which contains five patches and costs €3.90.

> How to mend a puncture

The tubes take up little space in your pocket or seatpack, so are good to carry as a spare. For road bikes, they come in one size for 18-28mm tyres and two valve stem lengths. They can be used with extenders and are safe to use with disc or rim brakes. They also come in a range of mountain bike and cyclo-cross/touring sizes as well as BMX. There's a good online shop.

The guys who set up Tubolito say they came up with the idea when they were working together on materials and designs for loudspeakers for mobile phones. I think they've hit on something.

Verdict

A very viable alternative to tubeless for saving weight at the wheel, and they promise puncture benefits too

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Tubolito Tubo Road 700c

Size tested: 42mm

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Says Tubolito: "Super Lightweight with only 38g – the Tubo-ROAD-700C offers 70g of weight saved compared to a standard tube – which can be crucial when it comes down to the wire. Suitable for disc and rim brakes."

Spot-on with the weight-saving, according to road.cc's Scales of Truth and my kitchen scales.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Made from a thermoplastic elastomer.

2x puncture resistance of a normal tube (Turbolito's tests)

Requires Tubo-Flix-Kit repair kit.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

There's not much to go wrong here. The tough plastic tubes are welded into a hoop and the valve attachment is secure too.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

From a ride point of view, they're very good. I couldn't tell the difference in ride quality from a normal tube. The weight saving is self-evident. Puncture resistance is claimed to be better and I haven't flatted one yet, but we'll see how they go over the winter.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

Be careful fitting – you mustn't over-inflate them outside the tyre. The plastic valve stem looks frail, but they've survived the test period.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
10/10

Undoubtedly significant here, saving 140g per bike over a standard tube.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
9/10

If you're concerned about a harsh or draggy ride, stand easy.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

Yes, they're expensive for an inner tube, but as a weight-saving measure they're pretty cost-effective compared with a tubeless conversion or a new wheelset.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Excellent. I'm convinced.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Light weight, good ride quality and easy to use.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The orange valve stems. They look naff sticking out of my nice wheelset.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

Not sure we've ever tested anything quite like these. As mentioned above, compare the price to a pair of tubeless tyres plus conversion kit and sealant. It's about half the price.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

Really, it's about time someone came up with a better inner tube and Tubolito has. Small, light, easy to use... You'll need a special puncture patch kit and they're not a small outlay but they do provide a good return on the investment.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 52  Height: 6'2  Weight: 73kg and holding steady

I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10   My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking

11 comments

Avatar
KoenM [140 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

I have on of these for my MTB it's especially usefull there because an MTB-innertube is so much larger! Do remember that if u use them they wont deflate well, impossible to roll-up again!

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Prosper0 [246 posts] 11 months ago
1 like

Yes, but normal super light tubes like Conti SuperSonics are 50 odd grams for £9 each. 

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hawkinspeter [4261 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
Prosper0 wrote:

Yes, but normal super light tubes like Conti SuperSonics are 50 odd grams for £9 each. 

Life's too short to be wasting it riding on £9 tubes (that's why I ride tubeless).

Avatar
McVittees [87 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
Prosper0 wrote:

Yes, but normal super light tubes like Conti SuperSonics are 50 odd grams for £9 each. 

The question is though, are these tubes more or less puncture resistant than something like the SuperSonics (or regular tubes for that matter).

Avatar
KoenM [140 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
Prosper0 wrote:

Yes, but normal super light tubes like Conti SuperSonics are 50 odd grams for £9 each. 

I think the review downplayed the most important fact, because yeah it's only a bit lighter than a normal tube, but it's WAY smaller in size! Especially for mtb 29" wheels it's ALOT smaller! 
So i'll be honest, don't buy it for normal road use (gravel maybe), it is alot smaller but on 29" it's great way to have more pocket/saddlebag space!

Avatar
hawkinspeter [4261 posts] 11 months ago
2 likes
KoenM wrote:
Prosper0 wrote:

Yes, but normal super light tubes like Conti SuperSonics are 50 odd grams for £9 each. 

I think the review downplayed the most important fact, because yeah it's only a bit lighter than a normal tube, but it's WAY smaller in size! Especially for mtb 29" wheels it's ALOT smaller! 
So i'll be honest, don't buy it for normal road use (gravel maybe), it is alot smaller but on 29" it's great way to have more pocket/saddlebag space!

Good point. I just caught myself actually considering getting one of these as a spare, but I remembered that I've got a pile of unused long valve inner tubes already and LOOK AT THE PRICE!

Avatar
glenjamin [3 posts] 11 months ago
1 like

Do these offer any improved protection against pinch flats? That was the biggest selling point of tubless for me.

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casperradil [9 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

I have used them for most of last season. I usually use 1 tube/month, but I still have not punctured any tubolito tubes. So considering that I often puncture normal tubes when installing these, pinch flats and so on, it may actually turn out to be a good investment (not even taking the weight savings into account).

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Jules Brown [10 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

I didn’t get on very well with these and will avoid them as far as possible in future.

 

I bought 3 of the ”CX/gravel” versions of 42mm 700cc, one for each wheel plus a spare. I must have been feeling optimistic (what can go wrong?) because normally for some such new technology I would have been more cautious and tried one tube at a time.

 

They are not lying about the weight – 54g per tube in all possible permutations I could think of with 3 tubes and 2 different branded sets of scales. Also being bright orange it’s easy to spot trapped tubes when installing (assuming tyres and rims are not orange too). After the first 4 weeks of commuting 2hrs per day I had not needed (or noticed a need) to add more air to either tyre. All seemed well, and losing weight is always a benefit.

 

However, when initially installing I noticed that it was very difficult to attach my Part Tool track pump to the valve stem. It took a lot of effort and patience. Eventually I concluded that the smooth plastic stem was not conducive to air tight gripping by the pump-head. The task needed three hands.

 

Then, after a tyre change (for unrelated reasons), I must have pinched and punctured the tube (despite the orange-ness) and then needed to try the dedicated patch kit. Still, it seemed that all was OK.

 

But it all came undone after a day ride of 3 hours or so when I noticed that the rear tyre was slightly soft. I added some more air the following morning with the three-handed Park Tool pump technique and went off to work. When it came to home time both tyres were fully flat and my Lezyne Pressure Drive adaptor could not fit the valve stem at all. I had to get a train home instead. On inspection the patched tube had failed at the patch (the patch had lifted off) and the rear tube had failed at several of the indentations of the cloth rim tape (there is nothing wrong with the rim tape).

 

I’m now chasing the supplier for a refund.

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paulfinn [2 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

Put a set of the 'regular' Tubo Road 700c on a Cervélo R5 for l'Étape du Tour a  couple of weeks ago.  Looking at 4,650m of climbing, wanted to carry as few grams as possible.  Mounted on Rolf Vigor Alpha aluminium wheels and new Conti GP 5000 tyres at about 85psi.  Beautifully made and the bright orange valve stems are a cool look, even if they'd be weird-as in a mixed pair.  Found them very easy to install and hold air exceptionally well. They're a hot ride with plenty of feedback from the road and while not uncomfortable, not plush either.  A tyre for riding or racing rather than cruising.  Price is pretty wild but it's easy to spend a couple of grand on a new set of wheels and save less weight.  Have to see how they perform for puncture resistance and general durability but so far, I'm happy.

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Peter W [6 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

Was so excited when I discovered these, that I immediatley bought 4 of these, 2 Road and 2 Road S, from two different sources. 

Three of them were leaking at the valve core straight out of the box, one held up for three days before the same issue occured. Inflated at max 80 psi (I ride 28mm tires).

Big waste of money.